Therefore, a substantial population of Americans are using kratom as a self-treatment or recreational substance for the aforementioned, scientifically understudied indications.
In the U.S., there is currently not enough regulatory enforcement to ensure that dietary supplements or products like kratom are sold to consumers as standardized, high-quality, and pure plant material. Without improved regulatory oversight aimed at protecting consumers, individuals could purchase fake or low-quality (suspect) products in retail establishments that sell kratom. Even worse, unregulated kratom products could be adulterated with other dangerous substances.
As is the case with other readily accessible over-the-counter and supplement products, kratom has pharmacological effects that can interfere with and affect other medications and pre-existing health conditions. It is in the consumers’ and public interest to ensure available kratom products are appropriately regulated. Allowing a lack of regulatory standards could further contribute to harm and undermine more research that is so important to the future regulatory decisions at the federal level.
The Florida Legislature currently has the opportunity to pass the Florida Kratom Consumer Protection Act (SB 1076) that would require products sold in the state to meet a higher bar of product purity, establish labeling requirements, and limit sales to consumers 21 years and older. It is a much-needed step to put some regulations in place and increase the safety of products that consumers have available to them.
With this legislation, the future of kratom research and education to the public and health care professionals will be strengthened. There is a substantial lack of understanding of kratom in the medical community. Nonetheless, consumers should consult with their physician or pharmacist if they wish to take kratom. By enhancing the regulatory environment and increasing awareness of kratom in the state, opportunities to elevate knowledge and research will certainly follow. The currently proposed Florida bill is an important step in standardization and regulation of kratom as we increase our scientific knowledge.
Christopher R. McCurdy is a professor in the University of Florida College of Pharmacy and director of the UF Translational Drug Development Core. Oliver Grundmann is a clinical professor in the department of medicinal chemistry in UF’s College of Pharmacy.